Humanism is a holistic approach to psychology which places emphasis on the process and goal of ‘self-actualisation’.
What are the key characteristics and concepts of humanistic theory, psychodynamic theory and cognitive-behavioural theory?
Humanism is a holistic approach to psychology which places emphasis on the process and goal of ‘self-actualisation’. Self-actualisation involves the fulfilment of a person’s needs and the full realisation of their potential. Core to the humanist approach is unconditional positive regard, which involves taking a non-judgemental, accepting approach with clients during therapy in order to provide the most fertile ground for them to flourish and grow.
Psychodynamic theory explains many behaviours as resulting from inner conflicts between a multitude of conscious and unconscious psychological forces. Core to the theory is the conflict between primal impulses (id) and moderating impulses (superego). A key aspect of psychodynamic analysis is the idea of ‘defence mechanisms’ – unconscious means by which persons can pacify unpleasant feelings and impulses, though not eliminate them.
Cognitive-behavioural theory combines cognitive and behavioural approaches in psychology. Like behaviourism, this theory sees negative stimuli as generating avoidance behaviours and an emotional response, but it also posits a relationship between these aspects and what is referred to as ‘maladaptive thinking’ – the cognitive component of the theory. It is believed that by consciously questioning and challenging these patterns of thought, change can be effected in emotions and behaviour.